Nahariya is Israel’s northernmost coastal city, a last testament to the seaside settlements that reach up along the sunny Mediterranean shoreline. Being the end of the train-line and just a few minutes from Rosh HaNikra, with its famous white sandstone grottos, tourists often find themselves Nahariya, a vibrant, little city. With a lively nucleus, comprised of a wide boulevard, divided by a river and lined with shops, restaurants, bars and hotels, and the seafront bars and restaurants, Nahariya provides sun-lovers with an idyllic vacation spot.
Ga’aton Boulevard, Nahariya
Nahariya Beach. Credit: Ashley Cohen
Nahariya is twinned with Miami Beach, Florida, having much in common. Nahariya’s Ga’aton Boulevard is strikingly reminiscent of the South Beach counterpart, Lincoln Avenue, and the similarities between the subtropical settings are endless. As the hot Mediterranean sun beats down on the white houses and buildings, roofed with the tradition terra-cotta tiles, the citizens and visitors mill around through the street, shaded by café and shop awnings, and of course, the multitudes of palm trees.
The Ga’aton Boulevard is divided by the Ga’aton River (it is called a river although during the summer months it dwindles down to a mere trickle) which continues its course to the Mediterranean Sea. There, the sweet waters mix with the salty and the children frolic in the surf. Just a few minutes further north, a fishing pier – jutting out into the waves – can be walked, a steady flow of fishermen visible throughout the year. Beyond the pier is a small bay where guarded swimming is held. With crowds throughout the summer, the beach is a great spot for relaxation and people-watching. For those inclined to engage in water-sports, kayaking is available nearby – launching the sea-going boats on the other side of the bay. Of course, the more adventurous sports such as wind-surfing can be seen – mostly further north off the Achziv Beach.
Lieberman House Museum
The Lieberman House Museum in Nahariya
Nahariya also hosts a museum, the Lieberman House. This home-turned-museum takes one back to the early years of Nahariya when the area was settled by German Jews emigrating from what would soon be the core of destruction to the Jews in that time. Disembarking ships in usually clandestine circumstances, the immigrants chose the seafront patch of land between Akko and Rosh HaNikra despite the risks at settling a new area in the face of the local Arab villages. After purchasing the land from a Lebanese family, the immigrants set forth to work the land, building farms, plantations and roads. Clever agriculture and smart business minds helped fuel great success and the farmers became local powers, founding companies and corporations that still exist today. But not everything was on a large scale, Nahariya remained a small city and to this day, still maintains a charm not found in the larger coastal cities.
Nahariya also marks the northern end of the Israel Railways, the end of the track stopping at Ga’aton Boulevard. Built by the British during the Mandate period, the railroad tracks actually extend to Rosh HaNikra and cross the border into Lebanon. A clever assault by the Carmel unit of the Haganah resistance group in 1946 destroyed the tracks that passed through the grottos of Rosh HaNikra. Today, most of the track between Ga’aton Boulevard and Rosh HaNikra has been removed, and thus the train ends at Nahariya.
When all is said and done, Nahariya is a great city to both visit and to base one’s excursions into the Galilee from. From the sunny beach to the lovely Ga’aton Boulevard to the Lieberman House Museum, there is something for everyone.
By: Shem Tov Sasson. A Contributing Journalist for Tourist Israel, Shem Tov lives in the small Israeli city of Ma’alot. His personal blog about his experiences and adventures in the Holy Land can be found at Israel’s Good Name.